Gift Guide

The Columbia Anthology of American Poetry


In the nineteenth century, Alexis de Tocqueville suggested that the poetry of the new American democratic state, free from the staggering weight of centuries of European aristocracy and tradition, would focus on "man alone... his passions, his doubts, his rare properties and inconceivable wretchedness."

For hundreds of years, American poets have presented their various images of the land and its people. But what is "American poetry?" Is there truly such a thing as an American ...

See more details below
$32.28 price
(Save 19%)$39.95 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (38) from $1.99   
  • New (6) from $33.19   
  • Used (32) from $1.99   
Sending request ...


In the nineteenth century, Alexis de Tocqueville suggested that the poetry of the new American democratic state, free from the staggering weight of centuries of European aristocracy and tradition, would focus on "man alone... his passions, his doubts, his rare properties and inconceivable wretchedness."

For hundreds of years, American poets have presented their various images of the land and its people. But what is "American poetry?" Is there truly such a thing as an American poetic tradition, spanning over nearly four centuries from colonial times to the turn of the millennium? In The Columbia Anthology of American Poetry, Jay Parini, a respected American poet and critic in his own right, offers an authoritative survey of the elusive category that is the poetry of the American people.

The Columbia Anthology of American Poetry covers all of the canonical American poets, from the colonial to the contemporary-Anne Bradstreet, Walt Whitman, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, and Adrienne Rich are all included.

But Parini has also selected a broad sampling of poetry from voices that have been heard as widely over the years. Here, for the first time, is a thorough collection of nineteenth- and twentieth-century poetry by women, Native American, and African Americans. Within these pages readers will find the many different traditions that make up the expansive collage of American poetry. Here are the Transcendentalists-Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, and Henry David Thoreau; and the Imagists-William Carlos Williams, Amy Lowell, H.D., and Carl Sandburg.

Readers will discover also the early twentieth-century movement of African-American poetic expression, known as the Harlem Renaissance-James Weldon Johnson, Countee Cullen, Gwendolyn Bennett, and Langston Hughes are all solidly represented in The Columbia Anthology of American Poetry.

Jay Parini's introduction deftly guides us into the rich tradition of poetry in our country. Whether in search of a well-known classic or a poem that is not yet considered part of the American poetic tradition, readers will find much to enjoy in The Columbia Anthology of American Poetry.

Columbia University Press

American poetry from pre-Revolutionary times to the present excluding the work of poets born after WWII is sampled in The Columbia Anthology of American Poetry, edited by poet and teacher Jay Parini. Leading poets from three centuries are well-represented, with the works of less well-recognized writers, e.g., Frances Sargent Osgood and Alice Carey in the 19th century, Claude McKay and Jean Toomer in the 20th, sprinkled throughout. Although this is a hefty, comprehensive compilation, Parini accurately observes in his excellent introduction, "I have merely skimmed the cream, as I see it, of American poetry."

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review

The Columbia Anthology of American Poetry interrogates the poetic tradition of the United States and dismantles it in a manner that encourages readers to reassemble that tradition in new and provocative ways.

Harvard Review
Rich in pleasures . . . In a bright-indeed, brilliant-introduction, Parini supplies a whirlwind tour of American poetry.
Catharine R. Stimpson
Like poetry or dislike it, use and enjoy the new Columbia History of American Poetry. There are riches here for all intellects and imaginations.
Library Journal
The recent torrent of specialized anthologies spotlighting individual styles, ethnicities, periods, and themes argues for at least one new omnibus that embraces the 400-year spectrum of American poetry with ecumenism. Ranging from Anne Bradstreet to Louise Glck, editor Parini aims to represent "the main schools of poetry that have co-existed in the United proportion to their influence," including more poetry by women and minorities "than one generally finds" in older anthologies. One grants him the latter assertion prima facie-pieces by neglected poets like Lone Adams and Claude McKay are welcome-but the former claim, vague as it is, invites debate, especially since the 20th-century selections seem unduly constrained by a bland, university-press conservatism. How else can one explain the presence of academic contemporaries Dave Smith and Robert Pack at the expense of important avant-garde influences such as George Oppen and William Everson? Or accept Anne Stevenson in the absence of Barbara Guest? The familiar essentials aside, such questionable inclusions and omissions render American poetry in a dimmer light than it deserves. Recommended for large collections only.-Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, N.Y.
To the canonical poets, from the colonial to the contemporary, Parini has added a welcome collection of 19th- and 20th-century poetry by women, Native Americans, and African Americans (including a solid representation of the Harlem Renaissance). Cavils will no doubt follow from the narrow-minded and the mean-spirited, but this is the anthology to own in our time. Essential for every collection. (RC) Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231081221
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 5/25/1995
  • Pages: 757
  • Sales rank: 774,193
  • Product dimensions: 6.48 (w) x 9.52 (h) x 1.63 (d)

Meet the Author

JAY PARINI is Axinn Professor of English at Middlebury College. A former Guggenheim Fellow and Visiting Fellow at Christ Church College, Oxford, Parini has written three volumes of poetry, four novels, a critical evaluation of Theodore Roethke's work, and a biography of John Steinbeck. He has written for The Columbia Literary History of the United States, and edited Gore Vidal: A Retrospective and The Columbia History of American Poetry, all published by Columbia University Press.

Columbia University Press

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents


Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672)ContemplationsBefore the Birth of One of her ChildrenTo my Dear and Loving HusbandThe Author to Her BookIn Memory of my Dear Grandchild Elizabeth BradstreetOn my Dear Grandchild Simon BradstreetHer Follow some Verses upon the Burning of our HouseAs Wear Pilgrim

Michael Wigglesworth (1631-1705)From the Day of Doom

Edward Taylor (1642? - 1729)Let by RainThe ReflexionMeditation 8 (first series) ("I kenning through astronomy divine")Meditation 150 (second series) ("My Blessed Lord, how doth thy beautious spouse")Upon a Spider Catching a FlyHuswiferyUpon Wedlock, and Death of Children

Philip Freneau (1752-1832)On the Emigration to AmericaThe Wild Honey SuckleThe Indian Burying GroundOn Mr. Paine's Rights of ManTo an AuthorOn Observing a Large Red-Streak Apple

Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784)On Being Brought from Africa to AmericaOn the Death of Rev. Mr. George WhitefieldThoughts on the Works of ProvidenceTo S.M., a young African Painter, On Seeing his Works

Joel Barlow (1754-1812)Advice to a Raven in Russia

Richard Henry Wilde (1789-1847)The Lament of the Captive

Lydia Huntley Sigourney (1791-1865)Indian NamesThe StarsTo the First Slave Ship

William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878)To Cole, the Painter, Departing from EuropeA Winter PieceThe PrairiesThanatopsisTo a WaterfowlThe African Chief

James Gates Percival (1795-1856)The Coral Grove

Lydia Maria Child (1802-1880)The New England Boy's Song about Thanksgiving Day

Sarah Helen Whitman (1803-1878)The Morning-GloryA November Landscape

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)Each and AllSea ShoreOde ("Though loath to grieve")Give all to LoveThine Eyes Still ShinedConcord HymnBrahmaFrom the RiverDays

Elizabeth Oakes-Smith (1806-1893)Ode to Sappho

John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)To my old SchoolmasterTelling the BeesBarbara FrietchieSnow-Bound

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)From The Song of Hiawatha (Introduction)Mezzo CamminThe Jewish Cemetery at NewportThe Cross of SnowSeaweedAfternoon in FebruaryThe Arrow and the SongPaul Revere's Ride

Lucretia Davidson (1808-1825)America

Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894)The Chambered Nautilus

Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849)To HelenThe City in the SeaSonnet-SilenceThe RavenEl DoradoFor AnnieAnnabel Lee

Frances Sargent Osgood (1811-1850)Woman Ellen Learning to WalkAh! Woman Still

Christopher Pearse Cranch (1813-1892)Cnosis The Pines and the Sea

Jones Very (1817-1862)The ColumbineI was sick and in PrisonThe Lament of the FlowersNatureThe Sumach Leaves

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)InspirationI am a Parcel of Vain Strivings TiedLight-Winged Smoke, Icarian BirdWithin the Circuit of this Plodding Life

William Ellery Channing (1818-1901)From a Poet's Hope

James Russell Lowell (1819-1891)To the Dandelion

Walt Whitman (1819-1892)One's Self I SingFrom Song of MyselfI Saw in Louisiana a Live-Oak GrowingAs Adam early in the MorningCrossing Brooklyn FerryOut of the Cradle Endlessly RockingWhen I heard the Learn'd AstronomerVigil Strange I Kept on the Field one NightThe Wound-DresserWhen Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'dA Noiseless Patient Spider

Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910)The PortentThe March Into VirginiaA Utalitarian View of the Monitor's FightShilohMalvern HillThe MartyrThe Maldive SharkThe BergArt

Alice Cary (1820-1871)The Sea-Side Cave

Frederick Goddard Tuckerman (1821-1873)Sonnet ("The starry flower, the flower-like stars that fade")Sonnet ("And so, as this great sphere")The Question

Frances E.W. Harper (1825-1911)The Slave AuctionBury Me in a Free LandThe Slave Mother

Henry Timrod (1828-1867)CharlestonOde ("Sleep Sweetly in your Humble Graves")

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)"Success is Counted Sweetest""A Wounded deer leaps highest""I felt a funderal in my brain""There's a certain slant of light""I can wade grief""Pain has an element of blank""A bird came down the walk""He fumbles at your spirit""I heard a fly buzz when I died""I started early, took my dog""Because I could not stop for death""A narrow fellow in the grass""The last night that she lived""My life closed twice before its close""Tell all the truth but tell it slant"

Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885)My LighthousesPoppies on the Wheat

Sidney Lanier (1842-1881)Song of the ChattahoocheeA Ballad of Trees and the MasterClover

Sarah Orne Jewett (1849-1887)At Home from ChurchA Country Boy in WinterA Caged Bird

Emma Lazarus (1849-1887)The New EzekielSouth

Louise Imogen Guiney (1861-1920)The Wild RideWhen on the Marge of Evening

Edgar Lee Masters (1868-1950)The HillPetit, the PoetThe Lost Orchard

Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869-1935)John EvereldownRichard CoryMiniver CheevyMr. Flood's Party

Stephen Crane (1871-1900)From The Black Riders (In the Desert)

James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938)Oh Black and Unknown Bards

Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)A Negro Love SongEre SLeep Comes Down to Sooth the Weary EyesShips that Pass in the NightLover's LaneThe DebtThe Haunted Oak

Trumbull Stickney (1874-1904)Age in YouthPityRequiescamQuiet after the Rain of MorningIn the PastIn AmpezzoThe Departure

Amy Lowell (1874-1925)Meeting-House HillMusicChinoiseries

Robert Frost (1874-1963)Storm fearMowingHome BurialThe Wood-PileFire and IceStopping by Woods on a Snowy EveningNothing Gold Can StaySpring PoolsDesignThe Gift OutrightThe Silken Tent"Out, Out-"The Subverted FlowerDirective

Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)The HarbourChicagoLanguagesBas-ReliefCool TombsGrass

Vachel Lindsay (1879-1931)General William Booth Entern into Heaven

Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)The Snow ManNomad ExquisiteOf Modern PoetryThirteen Ways of Looking at a BlackbirdSunday MorningAncedote of A JarThe Idea of Order at Key WestFrom Notes Toward A Supreme Fiction (it must be abstract)To an Old Philosopher in RomeFinal Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour

William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)Woman WalkingIt is a Small PlantTo a Poor Old WomanThe Sadness of the SeaSpring and allThe Red WheelbarrowThe Young HousewifeTo Ford Madox Ford in HeavenMists over the RiverFrom Paterson (The Falls)

Sarah Teasdale (1884-1933)Open WindowsOver the Roofs

Ezra Pound (1885-1972)Sestma: AltaforteThe VirginalThe ReturnThe River-Merchant's Wife: A LetterA PactIn a Station of the MetroFrom Hugh Selwyn Mauberley (1: "The tea-rose tea-grown, etc.") (2: "These fought in any way")Canto I ("And then went down to the ship")Canto XLV ("With Usura")

"H.D." (Hilda Doolittle) (1886-1961)Pear TreeOreadAt IthacaThe ShrineHelenAt Baia

Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962)To the Stone-CuttersNightShine, Perishing RepublicHurt Hawks Rock and HawkBut I am Growing Old and Indolent

Elinor Wylie (1887-1928)Wild PeachesLet no Chantable HopeMalediction Upon MyselfCastilian

Marianne Moore (1887-1972)The FishPoetryMarriageThe Steeple-JackIn Distrust of MeritsWhen I Buy Pictures

John Crowe Ransom (1888-1974)Bells for John Ehiteside's DaughterPiazza PieceBlue GirlsJanet Waking

T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)The Love Song of J. Alfred PrufrockGerontionThe Waste Land

Conrad Aiken (1889-1973)Dear Uncle StrangerHatteras CallingSolitaire

Claude McKay (1890-1948)The LynchingIf We Must DieHarlem Shadows

Archibald MacLeish (1892-1983)Ars PoeticaYou, Andrew Marvell

Edna St.Vincent Millay (1892-1950)RenascenceFrom: Sonnets from an Ungrafted Tree (1:"So she came back into his house again")The Buck in the SnowFrom: Fatal Interview (36: "Hearing a word, and not a word among them")Ragged Island

Charles Reznikoff (1894-1976)From: Testimony

Jean Toomer (1894-1967)ReapersNovember Cotton Flower

e.e.cummings (1894-1962)"you shall above all things be glad and young""anyone lived in a pretty how town""i sing of Okaf glad and big""my father moved through dooms of love"

Louise Bogan (1897-1970)Winter SwanMen Loved Wholly beyond WisdomM., Singing

Melvin Beanearus Tolson (1898-1966)African ChinaDark Symphony

Hart Crane (1899-1932)Repose of RiversVoyagesFrom: The Bridge (To Brooklyn Bridge)To Emily DickinsonTher Broken Tower

Leonie Adams (1899-1988)Lght at EquinoxApril Mortallity

Allen Tate (1899-1979)Ode to the Confederate DeadMr. Pope

Yvor Winters (1900-1968)Summer Noon: 1941The Slow Pacific Swell

Laura Riding Jackson (1901-1991)PrismsHelen's BurningAll Thingshe World and INothing so Far

Gwendolyn B. Bennett (1902-1981)To a Dark GirlHeritageHatred

Langston Hughes (1902-1967)The Weary BluesThe Negro Speaks of RiversJazzoniaCrossPo' Boy BluesEsthete in HarlemAs I grew OlderTheme for English B

Arna Bontemps (1902-1973)A Black Man Talks ReapingNocturne of the WharvesBlightGod Give to Men

Countee Cullen (1903-1946)HeritageFrom the Dark TowerTimed Lover

Lous Zukofsky (1904-1978)"A"-11 ("River that must turn full after I stop dying")

Richard Eberhart (1904-)For a LambTher Fury of Aerial BombardmentA Loon Call

Stanley Kunitz (1905-)The Science of the NightThe Snakes of September

Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989)Bearded OaksBlow, West WindEvenig HawkHeart of AutumnAmazing Grace in the BAck CountryWhat Voice at Moth-HourVermont Ballad: Change of Season

Theodore Roethke (1908-1963)Cuttings ("Sticks-in-a-drowse droop over sugary loam")Cuttings (Later) ("This urge, wrestle, resurrection of dry sticks")Root CellarOrchidsBig WindMy Papa's WaltzElegy for JaneThe Far Field

Charles Olson (1910-1970)From: The Maximus Poems, Book III (Poem 143: The Festival Apect)

Josephine Miles (1911-1985)BeliefConceptionAlbum

Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979)SeascapeA Cold SpringThe MapLittle ExerciseIn the Waiting RoomThe ArmadilloQuestions of Travel

Muriel Rukeyser (1912-1980)IrisThen I Saw What the Calling Was

Robert Hayden (1913-1980)Night, Death, MississippiA Road in KentuckyThose Winter SundaysMiddle Passage

Delmore Schwartz (1913-1966)The Heavy Bear Who Goes With Me

William Stafford (1914-1993)Traveling through the DarkThe Rescued YearAt the Bomb Testing Site

John Berryman (1914-1972)From: Homage to Mistress BradstreetFrom: The Dream Songs (1. "Huffy Henry hid the day") (4. "Filling her compact and delicious body') (5. "Henry sats in de bar & was odd") (14. "Life, friends, is boring")Henry's Fate

Randall Jarell (1914-1965)The Death of the Ball Turret GunnerThe Knight, Death, and the DevilThe Woman at the Washington Zoo

Robert Lowell (1917-1977)The Quaker Graveyard in NantucketMr. Edwards and the SpiderGrandparentsMan and WifeSkunk HourFor the Union DeadHistory

Gwendolyn Brooks (1917- )Negro HeroNotes from the Childhood and the GirlhoodJessie Mitchell's MotherOf Robert FrostLangston Hughes

Robert Duncan (1919-1988)Often I Am Permitted to Return to MeadowPassage over Water

Howard Nemerov (1920-1991)Blue SuburbanThe Western ApproachesThe War in the Air

Amy Clampitt (1920-1994)A Baroque Sunburst

Mona Van Duyn (1921- )Moose in the Morning. Northern Maine

Richard Wilbur (1921- )A Baroque Wall-Fountain in the Villa SciarraStill, Citizen SparrowLove Calls Us to the Things of this WorldMind

James Dickey (1923- )The Heaven of AnimalsThe Dusk of HorsesCherrylog Road

Anthony Hecht (1923- )JasonThe Gardens of the Villa D'Este

Galway Kinnell (1927- )The BearAfter Making Love We Hear footsteps

James Wright (1927-1980)Sparrwos in a Hillside DriftMilkweedAutumn Begins in Martins Ferry, OhioLying in a Hammock at Wiliam Duffy's Farm in Pine Island, MinnesotaBeginning

Anne Sexton (1928-1974)Music Swims Back to MeThe Truth the Dead KnowThe Starry NightWanting to Die

Peter Davison (1928- )Cross Cut

Philip Levine (1928- )Animals Are Passing From Our LivesAngel ButcherLater StillBell Isle, 1949SnowBelief

John Hollander (1929- )The Great BearMorning in the IslandsThe Mad Potter

Robert Pack (1929- )The Trasher in the Willow by the LakeProton Decay

Adrienne Rich (1929- )Aunt Jennifer's TigersIn the EveningDiving into the WreckPowerIntegrityTattered Kaddish

Gary Snyder (1930- )Mid-August at Sourdough Mountain LookoutAxel HandlesThe Snow on Saddle Mountain

Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)Morning SongDaddFever 103"Anel

Anne Stevenson (1933- )The Spirit Is Too Blunt an InstrumentIn the Orchard

Imamu Amiri Baraka (1934 - )Return of the NativeLegacy

Mark Strand (1934- )The KiteThe GardenShooting Whales

N.Scoot Momaday (1934-1992)Carners of the Dream WhellWinter Holding odf the Coast of North America

Audre Lorde (1935- )The Night-blooming Jasmine

Mary Oliver (1935- )Some Questios You Might AskWhen Death Comes

Charles Wright (1935- )Virgo DescendingSnowStone Canyon NocturneSitting at Night on the Front PorchPorstriat of the Artist with La PoCalifornia Spring

Nancy Williard (1936- )Angels in Winter

Charles Simic (1838- )ForkAgainst Whatever It is That's EncroachingAncient AutumnClouds Gathering

Robert Pinsky (1940- )First Early Mornings TogetherSerpent KnowledgeThe QuestionsShirt

Erica Jong (1941- )The Buddha in the Womb

Robert Hass (1941- )Meditation at Lagunitas

Simon J. Ortiz (1941- )The Creation: According to CoyoteThe Serenity in Stones

Dave Smith (1942- )The Roundhouse VoicesAugust, on the Rented Farm

Marilyn Hacker (1942- )Rondeau after a Transatlantic Telephone Call

James Tate (1942- )The Lost Pilot

Louise Glueck (1943- )The PondThe School ChildrenMessengersMount AraratThe Wild Iris

AcknowledgmentsIndex of AuthorsIndex of Titles and First Lines

Columbia University Press

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)